Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Arapahoe County Road 185 Playa

September 6, 2016

Rebecca Kosten (copy of email sent to cobirders listserve):

In a roundabout way, I (Richard Stevens) savored another superb birding day.  Can a day birding ever be bad.  Started the day out doing chores, when nearby Cherry Creek Reservoir, I drove through looking for the Common Tern that Loch Kilpatrick found early. 

Half a dozen Black Terns flew around the middle of the lake.  A white Tern was also out there, too far away to identify.

Already side tracked I decided to inspect the Eastern Arapahoe County playas.  The result was enjoying the two best reasons I became a birder.

Finding a needle in a haystack or better yet a surprise bird in the haystack is always delightful.  Making new friends is just as important and satisfying.

I stopped by the Arapahoe CR 30 playa (3:00 pm) to find it dried up and void of birds.  The CR 34 playa was never found; I headed to the CR 185 playa (4:00 pm).

No shorebirds were on the playa almost dried up now; I set up my scope to inspect it anyway.  The pond to the west across from CR 185 had not shore and many ducks.

As I sat there inspecting the playa to the east, shorebirds started to arrive overhead from the west.  The source could not be determined (I did look along CR 181).  By the time I left, the count was over 200 birds.

In the mix were 180+ Baird's Sandpipers, 12 Lesser Yellowlegs, 8 Greater Yellowlegs, 1 Stilt Sandpiper, 1 Solitary Sandpiper, at least 2 Least Sandpipers, at least 2 Western Sandpipers and 2 Semipalmated Sandpipers.  Many peeps were left unidentified.  Killdeer made up the rest except for the surprises. No smaller plovers were seen.

The highlights included 12 Pectoral Sandpipers, 2 Short-billed Dowitchers and could it be, the missing Buff-breasted Sandpiper.  No way to know if it was the CR 30 bird.  At least one Chestnut-collared Longspur remained from Saturday's group.

As I sat there, a rancher stopped and warned me about the nasty thunderstorm coming in from the southwest.  Warning given, he continued home.   The lightning was get worse.

Twenty minutes later, another truck came by; it was the rancher's wife.  She said her husband was on the internet and lightning strikes were quite numerous about 1/4 mile southwest of the playa.

Unfortunately, it was time to leave.  I followed her toward her ranch where I was treated to the location of nearby playas and the history of the area.  Quite interesting, if accurate to hear about how Deer Trail (a major cattle drive destination), Byers and Strasburg (majoy railroad town) were much bigger before a 1965 flood.  It is always intriguing to learn local history from the descendants of those that lived it!

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